nowshoe racing really is a sport for just about everyone. If I can do it, you definitely can. Like amateur road races, snowshoe races welcome competitors from a full spectrum of ability and commitment. The people I know who are fast on the snow are also really good trail runners, and believe me, after they’ve competed in a whole winter’s series of snowshoe races, they leave me and any city slicker who’s only raced two snowshoe events ever (guess who!), way behind in the spring mud! So while it helps the soul to be tromping through crystalline snow, breath visible in the crisp air, chickadees beeping encouragement, a run on snowshoes can also be a very hard workout and definitely builds strength for road and trail races once the snow melts. Even though I’m a beginner myself, I’d like to encourage all you Flyers to look into snow shoe races.

The first picture shows Denise testing some shoes and then one of Bob in a race. (Just click on the picture to start the slideshow.) By the way, my FIRST race was on loaner Dion snowshoes. My son and I both over dressed, so while he had a good time, guess who wound up running with all the extra clothes! A photo of him from 2001 is shown in the slideshow. It was taken at South Pond in Savoy State Forest (Mass.), which is still the site of races.

We New York City dwellers are lucky to live within driving range of a fantastic series of snowshoe events centered in western Massachusetts and the Albany, NY area: The Dion Snowshoe Racing Series, hosted by . (True confession here — it’s my other running club.)

I looked up all sorts of links, but the Snowshoe section of the Western Mass site is really the best. Click on any of the video links to see some past races. And don’t think that everyone is either young, male, and very fast, or guys that have, well, seen lots of trail miles. Women participate, too—they’re just not as prominent in the videos I watched.

Have a look at this interview with my friend Konrad talking about what he likes about snowshoe races. BTW, Karl generously runs as the “sweep” for many trail races from spring through fall:

My Most recent Race: The Hoot Toot & Whistle - Readsboro, Vermont

ast January I tried the inaugural Hoot Toot & Whistle held in Readsboro, Vermont, just over the Massachusetts line. This is from the race application:

Course: Very Gentle Grade Single Track

The race takes place on the Beginning section of the Catamount Trail (longest XC Ski and Snowshoe Trail in North America which travels 300 miles from Readsboro to Canada). We’ll run along the Deerfield River on the “Hoot Toot and Whistle” (Hoosac Tunnel and Wilmington) Narrow Gauge Train Rail Bed. Very Scenic

Pictures from the 2009 Hoot Toot & Whistle

Click on photo for slideshow

t was luxurious — the entry fees went to a community project and the local inn let us warm up indoors before and after and fed us a great lunch. Community members donated all sorts of things for a raffle after the event, and even though I was slow, slow, slow, and didn’t win any awards, I came away with a delicious home baked cake that my family could appreciate!

I would have signed up for it this year, but I got a little too ambitious in a 5 mile snowshoe run and aggravated an injury, so not wanting to jeopardize the rest of the season, I passed it by.

these are grassroots events and are definitely labors of love. No corporate event directors; no one is getting rich! And with snow conditions being so unpredictable, everyone needs to be flexible about scheduling.

The series is the “Dion” series because my friends Bob and Denise Dion started their own company several years ago and specialize in designing and making snowshoes for racing. Unlike Tubbs, who left their home in Stowe to manufacture overseas, Dion snowshoes are still made by hand in Vermont. They work tirelessly to get more and more people out on the snow.

What you should know: They sponsor the WMAC series and provide loaner snowshoes to novices for these races. Have a look at their website: .

So what do I suggest? Look at the WMAC’s Snowshoe section of website, look at Dion Snowshoes’ website, and contact Bob to reserve loaners. Get together with some friends and plan to head up north on Friday night so you’ll be ready for a Saturday morning race. (Alas, most of the series seems to be on Saturday morning). Then stick around and enjoy the Berkshires — museums, shopping and scenery.

ee, it looks like fun! Now, for those of you thinking beyond the Northeast: Snowshoe racing is gaining popularity around the world, as you can see from the International Amateur Snowshoe Racing Federation, which provides a translation of its website into 52 different languages!

The United States Snowshoe Association is the governing body for the sport of snowshoe racing in the U.S., holds annual national championships, and is dedicated to the goal of making the sport an Olympic event. While as you might expect, a lot of snowshoe races are held out west, in 2010 the National Championships was held in Highland Forest Park near Syracuse on March 5-7.

For full information, check out these web sites: and

ope to see you on the snow.